Biochemistry (Moscow) (v.73, #5)

On the path to understanding the nature of cancer by G. I. Abelev; T. L. Eraiser (487-497).
In this essay crucial problems of the origin of cancer and the development of malignancy are discussed. The problem of precancer and three ways leading to malignancy are considered: induction of tumor precursors, accumulation of genetic traits common for tumor growth, and the role of inflammation in tumor induction. The nature of viral oncogenes and modes of their action are described in the context of their origin as a component of the viral genome. Oncogenes of RNA-containing viruses and DNA-containing tumorigenic viruses are described together with cellular protooncogenes, which are progenitors of RNA-containing viral oncogenes. Hematological malignancies are described as an intermediate form between simple tumors induced by a single oncogene and more complicated epithelial tumors. The roles of tumor suppressor genes and the interaction of several oncogenes in the formation of carcinomas and also the role of progression in tumor evolution are discussed.
Keywords: carcinogenesis; precancer; oncogenes; protooncogenes; suppressors; progression; epithelial-mesenchymal transition

Papillomaviruses—to vaccination and beyond by H. zur Hausen (498-503).
High risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 DNAs were initially identified in 1983–1984. Subsequently the DNA of several other high risk HPV types has been identified. HPV 16 is present in more than 50% of cervical cancer biopsies, and HPV 18 is close to 20%. Some geographic variations exist in the prevalence of HPV high risk types: e.g. HPV 45 is more frequently observed in equatorial Africa, whereas types 58 and 52 have been more often found in East Asia. Molecular as well as epidemiological studies demonstrate that high risk HPV are indeed the causative agents for cervical cancer, they are also involved in other anogenital cancers, and in 25–30% of oropharyngeal carcinomas. Some of the mechanistic aspects are discussed in this review.
Keywords: papillomaviruses; cervical cancer; vaccination

Chronic infections caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) and/or hepatitis C virus (HCV) are the main risk factors for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in humans. Both viruses cause a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations ranging from healthy carrier state to acute and chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and HCC. HBV and HCV belong to different viral families (Hepadnoviridae and Flaviviridae, respectively); they are characterized by different genetic structures. Clinical manifestations of these viral infections result from the interaction between these viruses and host hepatocytes (i.e. between viral and cell genomes). Proteins encoded by both viruses play an important role in processes responsible for immortalization and transformation of these cells. Chronic inflammation determined by host immune response to the viral infection, hepatocyte death and their compensatory proliferation, as well as modulation of expression of some regulatory proteins of the cell (growth factors, cytokines, etc.) are the processes that play the major role in liver cancer induced by HBV and HCV.
Keywords: hepatitis B virus; hepatitis C virus; carcinogenesis; signaling pathways

Small RNAs and cancerogenesis by S. S. Ryazansky; V. A. Gvozdev (514-527).
Disturbances of microRNA generation and functioning as inhibitors of gene expression at the translational level are considered as specific and diagnostic features of cancer. This review also highlights the role of short interfering RNA (siRNA) in modified epigenomic chromatin structure, which may cause cancer transformation. Future directions of cancer epigenomics are considered in the light of the involvement of siRNA in epigenomic modification of chromatin.
Keywords: miRNA; siRNA; cancerogenesis; epigenome

Complete and incomplete transitions of epitheliocytes into cells of mesenchymal type, so-called epithelial—mesenchymal transitions (EMT), take place in many types of normal morphogenesis and in epithelial carcinogenesis. Connective tissue cells (fibroblasts) also undergo considerable morphological changes during normal morphogenesis and carcinogenesis, but their dynamics are less known. It is suggested that EMT and fibroblast dynamics may have some common step that is some united precursor cell type. The program for normal EMT can be activated in the course of multistep progression of epithelial carcinogenesis; this activation can be supported by cell selection as it provides a basis for dissemination of neoplastic cells from original tumor.
Keywords: microtubule; microfilament; juvenile fibroblast; mature fibroblast; malignant transformation

Molecular epidemiology of cancer by D. G. Zaridze (532-542).
In this review the role of molecular markers for the assessment of individual exposure to carcinogenic agents was analyzed. Examples of the studies describing mutation patterns related to specific carcinogenic exposures are presented. The results of epidemiological studies of gene polymorphism and its role in the interaction between inheritance, environmental factors, and lifestyles are analyzed in detail. Adequate planning and performance of the epidemiological component of a study is a requirement for obtaining reproducible results reflecting molecular mechanisms of interest. Individual information on lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol consumption, nutrition, physical activity, reproductive anamnesis) and environmental factors (occupational activity and carcinogen load at workplace), which influence not only the risk of developing cancer, but also the molecular features of a tumor, is crucial for adequate analysis and proper assessment of the results.
Keywords: molecular markers; carcinogen-specific mutations; genetic polymorphism; interaction of genetic and environmental factors in carcinogenesis

Genetic polymorphism and variability of chemical carcinogenesis by G. A. Belitsky; M. G. Yakubovskaya (543-554).
Risk assessment in chemical carcinogenesis involves ratios of several factors. Individual responses of an organism to carcinogenic agents depend on polymorphism of enzymes responsible for metabolic activation/detoxification of carcinogens, DNA repair, and apoptosis, as well as promotion and progression in malignantly transformed cells. The effects of a particular polymorphic variant are manifested only in the case of its high penetrance. An integral effect is formed by the ratio of procarcinogenic and anticarcinogenic effects. The complexity of risk assessment depends on the gene polymorphism mosaic involved, directly or indirectly, in tumorigenesis and upstream/downstream interactions of gene products.
Keywords: chemical carcinogenesis; gene polymorphism; cytochrome P450; DNA repair; apoptosis; promotion; initiation

Role of toll-like receptors in tissue repair and tumorigenesis by S. Rakoff-Nahoum; R. Medzhitov (555-561).
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a critical role in host defense from microbial infection. TLRs recognize conserved molecular structures produced by microorganisms and induce activation of innate and adaptive immune responses. The inflammatory responses induced by TLRs play an important role TLRs not only in host defense from infection, but also in tissue repair and regeneration. This latter function of TLRs can also contribute to tumorigenesis. Here we review recent progress in understanding the role of TLRs in cancer development.
Keywords: Toll-like receptors; tissue repair; tumorigenisis

Cancer-associated antigens and antigen arrays in serological diagnostics of malignant tumors by P. V. Belousov; D. V. Kuprash; A. Yu. Sazykin; S. V. Khlgatian; D. N. Penkov; Yu. V. Shebzukhov; S. A. Nedospasov (562-572).
The appearance of antibodies to cancer-associated antigens in biological fluids (particularly, in blood sera) of cancer patients is now a well-established fact, and their detection by immunochemical methods is a promising approach to diagnostics of malignant neoplasms. In this review, we consider some immunobiological aspects of the most extensively studied cancer-associated B-cell antigens, various applications of autoantibodies as cancer biomarkers, and prospects for the use of antigen arrays for improving diagnostic sensitivity.
Keywords: cancer-associated antigens; autoantibodies; serological diagnostics of cancer

Tissue-specific transcription factors in progression of epithelial tumors by N. L. Lazarevich; D. I. Fleishman (573-591).
Dedifferentiation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition are important steps in epithelial tumor progression. A central role in the control of functional and morphological properties of different cell types is attributed to tissue-specific transcription factors which form regulatory cascades that define specification and differentiation of epithelial cells during embryonic development. The main principles of the action of such regulatory systems are reviewed on an example of a network of hepatocyte nuclear factors (HNFs) which play a key role in establishment and maintenance of hepatocytes—the major functional type of liver cells. HNFs, described as proteins binding to promoters of most hepatospecific genes, not only control expression of functional liver genes, but are also involved in regulation of proliferation, morphogenesis, and detoxification processes. One of the central components of the hepatospecific regulatory network is nuclear receptor HNF4α. Derangement of the expression of this gene is associated with progression of rodent and human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and contributes to increase of proliferation, loss of epithelial morphology, and dedifferentiation. Dysfunction of HNF4α during HCC progression can be either caused by structural changes of this gene or occurs due to modification of up-stream regulatory signaling pathways. Investigations preformed on a model system of the mouse one-step HCC progression have shown that the restoration of HNF4α function in dedifferentiated cells causes partial reversion of malignant phenotype both in vitro and in vivo. Derangement of HNFs function was also described in other tumors of epithelial origin. We suppose that tissue-specific factors that underlie the key steps in differentiation programs of certain tissues and are able to receive or modulate signals from the cell environment might be considered as promising candidates for the role of tumor suppressors in the tissue types where they normally play the most significant role.
Keywords: hepatocyte nuclear factors; tumor progression; differentiation; hepatocyte; hepatocellular carcinoma; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; liver; pancreas

Transport proteins of the ABC family and multidrug resistance of tumor cells by A. A. Stavrovskaya; T. P. Stromskaya (592-604).
Some new data concerning the role of transport proteins of the ABC family in multidrug resistance (MDR) of human tumor cells, and problems connected with regulation of these proteins are considered. MDR is a complex phenomenon that may be caused simultaneously by several mechanisms functioning in one and the same cell. Among them there may be the alterations of activity of several transport proteins. Activation of these proteins may be associated with alterations of activities of different cell protective systems and of the signal transduction pathways involved in regulation of proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Clinical significance of multifactor MDR is discussed.
Keywords: ABC family proteins; P-glycoprotein; multidrug resistance of tumors

The basic principle of targeted therapy formulated about ten years ago consists in the design and application of drugs specifically directed against well-defined targets that are critical for tumor survival and not compromising for normal organs and tissues. The past decade has been marked by the appearance of an immense diversity of novel antitumor agents with claimed targeted action. Unfortunately, despite indisputable progress in clinical settings, some popular drugs against solid tumors (e.g. bevacizumab, trastuzumab, erlotinib, gefitinib) nominally assigned to targeted-action drugs, cannot actually be classified with this group being nonconforming to a priori stated goals of targeted therapy. The state-of-the-art and current problems in targeted therapy of solid tumors are reviewed.
Keywords: targeted therapy; breast cancer; colorectal cancer; VEGF; VEGFR; EGFR; HER-2